Though roughly 3,000 miles from where I live in South Dakota, being in the Kenai schools felt sort of like coming home. I have been there once before in person but through the years have connected with the school so many times I feel I know many of the students and count a number of teachers as friends. Of course, Greg Zorbas and Rob Sparks, who team teach at Kenai School District, are amazing technology-enabled teachers with an international reputation. Greg and Rob have been an immense help to us at Polycom through the years.
Today, though, was to be a little different for me. Rather than dealing with my usual fare of teachers and students, the emphasis this time was on working with the administrative staff of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD). The district has pioneered innovative collaborative techniques for students. That has now spilled over into fostering administrative collaborations within the district.
The KPBSD includes about 1,200 staff at 42 sites – spread over almost 26,000 square miles. That area is larger than the entire state of West Virginia! Obviously, Polycom’s RealPresence solutions can have a huge impact on their operations and effectiveness.
One way that we “defied distance” in Monday’s session was to divide our large group and send them down the hall so we could use VTC with them as well as with a third group that was at a genuinely remote site. Our agenda was focused on Effective Business Collaboration and was to include:
Etiquette and content design principles
Conducting effective meetings and presentations
Applications and resources
After I presented the agenda, umm, I found out what they really wanted me to cover! So for the next three hours we practiced using Polycom and Lync solutions. Lots of questions were asked during this session based on the anticipated role of each participant.
Here’s a sampling of questions:
How do I conduct interviews with remote schools?
Can we use this for professional development session for multiple sites?
Can we use this technology instead of traveling throughout my district?
Can we record?
How should we present over video?
Do we have a resource we can turn to when we are setting up a VTC collaboration?
Not only did I field questions but Casey Olson, the team leader for the district’s IT resources, was great in sharing the tools available to the Kenai staff. I’m also grateful that this was a Team Polycom event. While I presented live, we connected with Sue Porter way down south in Michigan. Sue gives a great perspective on the content but is also very helpful as surrogate to demonstrate technologies and techniques.
Immediately after the training I headed to Anchorage for a flight for Juneau. Today was an interesting and helpful day. One more training to go – should be an interesting one!
Sorry no pictures on this post but stand by for my final post - I will include many pictures.